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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

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Volume 18, Issue 2

Exercise-induced hypoalgesia in women with varying levels of menstrual pain

Mervyn Travers
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
  • School of Physiotherapy, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Penny Moss
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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/ William Gibson
  • School of Physiotherapy, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
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/ Dana Hince
  • Institute of Health Research, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Sheree Yorke
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Connie Chung
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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/ Rebecca Langford
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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/ Esther Ee Woon Tan
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jolene Ng
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia
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/ Thorvaldur Skuli Palsson
Published Online: 2018-02-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0020

Abstract

Background and aims:

Exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH) is a well-established phenomenon in pain-free individuals that describes a decrease in pain sensitivity after an acute bout of exercise. The EIH response has been demonstrated to be sub-optimal in the presence of persisting pain. Menstrual pain is a common recurrent painful problem with many women experiencing high levels of pain each cycle. However, the EIH response has not been examined in a cohort of women with high levels of menstrual pain. This research aimed to examine whether EIH manifests differently in women with varying levels of menstrual pain. The primary hypothesis was that women with high levels of menstrual pain would demonstrate compromised EIH. Secondary aims were to explore relationships between EIH and emotional state, sleep quality, body mass index (BMI) or physical activity levels.

Methods:

Pressure pain thresholds (PPT) were measured in 64 participants using a digital handheld algometer before and after a submaximal isometric-handgrip exercise. EIH index was compared between low (VAS 0–3), moderate (VAS 4–7) and high (VAS 8–10) pain groups, using a linear mixed model analysis with participant as a random effect, and site, menstrual pain category and the interaction between the two, as fixed effects.

Results:

EIH was consistently induced in all groups. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the pain groups for EIH index (p=0.835) or for any co-variates (p>0.05).

Conclusions:

EIH was not found to differ between women who report regular low, moderate or high levels of menstrual pain, when measured at a point in their menstrual cycle when they are pain free.

Implications:

This study provides insight that EIH does not vary in women with differing levels of menstrual pain when they are not currently experiencing pain. The current findings indicate that, although menstrual pain can involve regular episodes of high pain levels, it may not be associated with the same central nervous system dysfunctions as seen in sustained chronic pain conditions.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: exercise-induced hypoalgesia; dysmenorrhea; menstrual pain; endogenous analgesia

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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Mervyn Travers, School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, Phone: +61 8 9266 5282


Received: 2018-01-17

Revised: 2018-02-02

Accepted: 2018-02-05

Published Online: 2018-02-26

Published in Print: 2018-04-25


Authors’ statements

Research funding: None declared.

Conflict of interest: None declared.

Informed consent: Written informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to inclusion in the study.

Ethical approval: The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Curtin University (HRE2017-0544), and adhered to the Declaration of Helsinski.

Author contributions

All authors contributed to design of the study. SY, CC, JN, ET and RL completed data collection, data entry and contributed to drafting the article. DH performed the statistical analyses, with contributions from MT. All authors contributed to interpreting the results, commenting on the manuscript, critically revising the article, evaluating intellectual content and gave final approval of the manuscript.


Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 18, Issue 2, Pages 303–310, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0020.

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©2018 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved..Get Permission

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